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October 14, 2005
Try as I might, I can't open this impregnable package with just my hands -- it is encased in a plastic too tough to pull apart. I must fetch the scissors and shear my way through it to get at the ink cartridge I need. The package is immense, four times the size of its contents, expensively decorated with bright photographs of attractive people with very white teeth -- they have just had their digital photos taken, I guess, and they seem absolutely thrilled.

Too many of the things we buy are encased like this, as secure as King Tut was in his many-layered tomb -- which in the end, was not all that secure, was it -- considering that they eventually found him?

"Press here," it says on the milk carton, and I press there. But I can't seem to peel the spout apart enough to use, and end up tearing the thing so I can't pour from it at all. "Push down and turn" it says on the bottle of oil soap, and I push and turn, only to hear the discouraging click of a bottle too safe ever to open. Well, at least we'll never run out of it, I tell myself, as I put the bottle back on the shelf, deciding not to take an ice pick and punch a hole in it. Maybe Q can open it when he gets home.

"Closed" says the sign on the post office door. Damn -- I thought they were open later on Saturday. "Closed" says the sign in the restaurant window. Damn -- I forgot it was Monday. Are you open yet? I ask the young man in the grocery store, and he shakes his head. Ten o'clock, he says as he shoulders a crate of vegetables that was sitting on the front steps and carries it to the to the back of the store.

Closed. Closed. It makes me sad to just to hear the word, left out. Wanting something I can't have. Things I can't open. Closed things.

An angel with a flaming sword stands at the gate of Paradise, barring the entry: Paradise is closed. Moses strikes the bare face of a rock, and cool water pours forth. Ephphatha, Jesus says, be opened, and a man's power of speech is freed from its prison. Take away the stone, Jesus says as he stands in front of his friend's tomb, and Lazarus hobbles to the opening, still wrapped in his funeral shroud. One arm is stretched upon the hard wood of the cross, and then the other, and now both arms are opened to embrace the whole world.

Open.Closed.Open.Closed. It is not Advent yet, but I am excited already.

O come thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

And you know the rest:

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee,
O Israel.
Latin, 12th century.
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